SpaceX plans to beat NASA and land on Mars before the end of the decade

NASA intends to land the first astronauts on Mars by about 2040. Recently, SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell told CNBC that they will beat NASA in the Mars race by at least a decade. If earlier everyone had looked at such statements with a smirk, now such words are treated with all seriousness. SpaceX, under the leadership of its CEO Elon Musk, has achieved what was once considered science fiction, including the reusable use of Falcon 9 rockets.

Elon Musk’s long-term goal is to establish a human settlement on Mars. Image: SpaceX

Musk’s long-term goal is to establish a human settlement on Mars.  Starship, a massive reusable rocket that SpaceX is developing at its facility in Boca Chica, Texas, is intended to be a tool to achieve this goal, since its power and capacity will be enough to deliver the first settlers together with supplies to the Red Planet.

How to achieve ambitious goals

What needs to happen before Shotwell’s prediction becomes reality? First, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must approve the Starship flight — a process that has been repeatedly postponed, but is now scheduled for the end of May 2022. 

When the Superheavy rocket launches with Starship take place, a lot needs to happen in a short time for Shotwell’s promise of people on Mars to come true before the end of this decade. First of all, the rocket must successfully carry out orbital missions. At the same time, both the carrier and the Starship must return and land without incident. According to Bloomberg, these flights will begin in the summer of 2022.

Then SpaceX will have to prove that it is capable of refueling in orbit. This operation is crucial for the Human Landing System spacecraft, which will deliver astronauts and cargo to the Moon and back as part of the NASA Artemis project. SpaceX currently plans to conduct an unmanned mission to the surface of the Moon in 2024, and then land the first people on the Moon next year.

Nearest Launch Window

If all of the above goes well, SpaceX may be ready to send a spacecraft to Mars. The last launch window to the Red Planet this decade will open in late 2028 and early 2029. In order for Shotwell’s promise to be fulfilled, the first human expedition to Mars must depart from Earth at this time.

The journey involves great dangers. Radiation and harsh microgravity conditions will threaten astronauts during a flight to Mars. It is expected that after landing on the Red Planet, the pioneers will face many harsh conditions bordering on deadly danger. Elon Musk has already warned that part of the crew may not survive the first attempt to conquer the Red Planet. A disaster would reflect very badly on SpaceX and the Mask. But success will definitely go down in history, to say the least.

Earlier, Elon Musk wrote a tweet that Starlink is resisting Russian aggression.

According to The Hill

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